Twelve Orioles Thoughts at 35-game mark of 2023 season

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With the Orioles off to a 22-13 start and holding the second-best record in the American League, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Since beating Atlanta on Friday, the Orioles have lost three straight games to baseball’s top two teams by a combined 11-6 margin. Monday marked the first three-game losing streak of the season and the first defeat in a series opener, which isn’t bad for the second week of May. 

2. In the same way one shouldn’t have expected Baltimore to win 111 games after a 22-10 start, this hiccup doesn’t mean Brandon Hyde’s club has been “exposed” either. This is why we need to let a baseball season breathe without overreacting. The Orioles remain in a great spot.

3. Going 2-for-29 with runners in scoring position is a good recipe for a three-game losing streak, regardless of how you pitch. Baltimore is batting .257 with runners in scoring position for the season compared to an overall .254 average ranking sixth in the AL. The offense will be fine. 

4. Adley Rutschman is hitless in his last 18 at-bats after striking out three times on Monday night, but he still has five walks over that drought. Such hitters remain playable even when they’re really slumping, which is something we’ve discussed plenty with Gunnar Henderson’s slow start to 2023. 

5. Ryan Mountcastle is hitting the ball as hard as anyone and continues to experience tough luck when looking at his advanced numbers. However, he’s walking less than ever, which doesn’t help his cause even as he’s cut down on his strikeouts a little. His hitting profile truly is fascinating. 

6. Kyle Gibson has been about what anyone could have reasonably expected with a league-average 4.40 ERA through eight starts. He’s also averaging just under six innings per outing, which easily leads a club relying so heavily on its bullpen. He gives the Orioles a good chance just about every start. 

7. Tyler Wells is the only other starter averaging more than 5.1 innings per outing, and that includes his emergency five-inning relief appearance on April 3. The Orioles don’t need a great rotation to make the playoffs, but they really need more length from starters.  

8. Though I hardly agree with every move made by Brandon Hyde, the Orioles have played just three games decided by five or more runs all season, meaning they’ve had a ton of high-leverage spots. Yes, every game counts, but you can’t run your top relievers into the ground in May. 

9. Though Yennier Cano continues to be one of baseball’s outstanding stories, he is already fourth among Baltimore relievers in innings pitched and ranks third in the majors in relief frames since being recalled on April 14. He’s been nothing short of incredible, but you want to keep him healthy too. 

10. Looking at Anthony Santander’s season stats reminds us just how early it still is. He entered May with a .642 OPS and now sports a strong .804 mark after one red-hot week. That’s something to remember for Henderson, who still has a .339 on-base percentage despite his .174 average. 

11. Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens continue their rehab assignments this week, but it remains to be seen when either is activated. Results aren’t paramount in such settings, but Tate’s numbers haven’t been pretty and you want to be extra cautious with an elbow issue, of course. 

12. I don’t know if the “City Connect” uniform leak that surfaced Monday is accurate, but my very low expectations were indeed justified if so. Perhaps the cap will be better, but I’m bracing for sad #FashionTweets anyway. The uniform debuts later this month.

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